Following the Mining Railroad Operations of Southwest Pennsylvania

On Saturday (May 12) I ventured to the coal fields of Greene County Pa., where two railroads run over what in railroad terms is fairly new construction.

The first is the Cumberland Mine Railroad. This is a 17-mile long line built in 1975.

It uses 38 coal hoppers and two EMD SD38-2s in a two-tone blue paint scheme.

Operations are simple and basic. The train loads at a loadout in Kirby Pa., then proceeds to a barge loading facility on the Monongahela River at Alicia Pa.

The train just shuttles back and forth all day, every day.

Interestingly, the railroad is landlocked. It does not connect with the national rail network.

The locomotives were brought in by barge and the freight cars were trucked in and assembled on site.

There was a good article about this rail operation published in the March 2012 issue of Railpace  magazine, which I had with me of course.

The other railroad is the Manor branch of the former Monongahela Railroad, also known as the Waynesburg Southern.

This was built in 1968 to reach Bailey Mine. Currently owned by Norfolk Southern, CSX has rights on the line. Traffic is evenly split between the two.

First, we went to West Brownsville on the former Monongahela and found nothing moving or any crews.

We then headed south and passed an NS work train—a Gevo with four Southern Railway gondolas—but didn’t get any pictures of it.

We then went to Alicia Pa., and didn’t find any trains here, either.

Following the line to Kirby, we saw the shuttle train heading east. We chased it and got many good pictures on the way back.

After catching the shuttle unloading at Alicia, we headed back to West Brownsville. With still no trains around, we decided to head for Connellsville for some CSX action.

Just as we got north of town we heard the NS dispatcher give a CSX train clearance to Jimbo. This is the interlocking at West Brownsville.

We turned around and arrived ahead of a loaded NS train coming off the branch.

Once he cleared the empty CSX train headed up the line. We chased this train all the way to the Bailey Mine, catching a meet along the way.

Despite the slow start, it turned into a fine day of  railfanning in the end.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

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